The longer I live, the more I gamble
By Brian Christopher
My name is Brian Christopher, I host the leading Slots channel on YouTube, and I am a non-smoker. This article is certainly not to preach on the medical harms of smoking. Anyone is free to look up the fact that a cigarette is comprised of over 7,000 chemicals (69 of which cause cancer) and that smoking is responsible for 480,000 premature deaths of Americans each year (42,000 of which are from second hand smoking). That said, let’s try and figure out why it is still legal to smoke in half of the casinos in the U.S. and all of them in Las Vegas. I think we are past the point of denying it’s bad for us – so what’s the deal?
I was born and raised in Canada, where smoking has been prohibited from public spaces (including casinos) for more than a decade. So, when I moved to the U.S. a few years ago I was shocked to see people puffing away on the gaming floor. It looked, and smelled, so foreign to me. The biggest argument against banning smoking in casinos is that they would go out of business. To me, that is very reminiscent of when the government was proposing to ban smoking In bars and restaurants. They fought it vigorously saying that they would all go out of business, and what happened? It turns out people continued to eat and drink. Who knew? Because of that law, many lives were protected and the government saved millions of dollars in healthcare costs.
Herein America, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking accounted for $176 billion in healthcare related costs in 2012. Isn’t that sickening? Imagine where those players could have spent that money instead.
Now I understand that even with knowing all of the facts, some people still choose to smoke. I’m not here to judge others’ actions, so it comes down to choice. Many smoking casinos (if not all) require you to walk through the entire smoking floor, (cough), before arriving at the non-smoking section. This “section” is defined by having to cross an invisible boundary to get in and play the (generally older, more outdated) machines. This magical divider does nothing to stop the nearby smoke and regardless of where you are or how good your ventilation may be, It does not stop the smoke from your neighbor’s cigarette or cigar from finding its way to your nostrils… not to mention your mouth, eyes, skin, hair and clothes.
Being a regular to Las Vegas, it astounds me that there is no standalone non-smoking casino. However, after researching further I was surprised to learn that there used to be! In I991 Circus Circus Enterprises, now known as Mandalay Resort Group, refurbished both the interior and exterior of Silver City Casino and opened it as the first (and last) fully non-smoking casino in Las Vegas. I fear it was ahead of its time. Soon after its opening, it switched back to allowing smoking. In that period, CDC reported that an estimated 49.8 percent of American adults were ever smokers. Fast forward a few decades and cigarette consumption has declined a whopping 40 percent between 2000, when 42 percent of adults smoked, to just 15 percent in 201 5. A further 5 percent quit smoking between 2014 and 2015 leaving just 36.5 million current adult smokers.
So, if I5 percent – or possibly less now — of the population is smokers, why not have stricter rules in place? Why does 85 percent of the non-smoking population have to suffer? I can imagine some smokers fuming over my words right now. How dare I suggest to take away anyone’s fundamental right to smoke, something that has been a civil liberty for lifetimes? To that I say: facts are facts. If we cannot grow through education, then what’s the point? If only 15 percent of people smoked, how is it appropriate for the rest of the gamblers, tourists and staff to have to visit and work in those environments? With all of the knowledge we now have, how can we tell our children or grandchildren that we were so ignorant that we chose a destructive path? Isn’t gambling away their inheritance enough? I think the time for smoke-free casinos is now! People can still light up outside if they need to.
Casinos are all about making money and extracting lifetime customer value. So why not keep their gamblers healthier so they can live longer? WIN-WIN.
Because I have a very large audience on YouTube and across all social media, I decided to ask my fans what they thought about smoking in casinos. Of those who responded, three out of five were non-smokers and of the smokers only 47 percent said they would choose a casino based on its smoking policies.
Here’s what else they had to say:
“The casino in my area is non-smoking, and I prefer it. When I feel like having a cigarette I go outside!” — Mary, smoker in Canada
“All casinos in Colorado are non-smoking, which is good, since I work in one!” —Jana, non-smoker in the U.S.
“As a Canadian all our casinos are non-smoking. I am a smoker and non-smoking casinos don’t bother me. Even when in Vegas most times I still avoid casinos that are too smoky.” —Betty, smoker in Canada
“There will be thousands of people who would not set foot in a non-smoking casino if they smoked and my wife is included even though she uses an E-cigarette in the UK. Whether you like it or not, in Vegas this all comes down to money pure and simple. The health side of it they don’t care.” —Richard in the UK
“I would love to play without the smoke. I don’t know why but I always cough for a day or two after going to the casino.” —Andrée, non-smoker in the U.S.
According to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR), there are currently at least 782 state regulated gambling facilities that are required to be 100 percent smoke-free indoors. Only one of them exists in the state of Nevada, home to Fernley Nugget, about a 30-minute drive from Reno.
Making casinos smoke-free can work, and does make sense. There are numerous landmarks and countries worldwide where it’s a success, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Macau. In fact, Macau’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) surprised analysts for the 15th consecutive time as they posted a 22.1 percent increase in October 2017 with $3.31 billion in monthly GGR, the highest in three years. Making Las Vegas and the entire rest of the U.S. smoke-free is a logical step.
Gambling addicts and smoking addicts do not necessarily go hand in hand. It is true what they say: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” including my health, for now. Well that and my bank account.
Health woes aside, I wish there was a better way for gamblers to understand how slot machines really work. But that’s for another article!
To get in touch with Brian Christopher and invite him to visit your showroom or property, please email contact@BrianGambles.com, visit BrianGambles.com, or just search Brian Christopher on YouTube.